Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Review: The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

Book: The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, 1978 Newbery Medal Winner
Genre: YA
Rating: A-

My 10 year old daughter's been begging me to read this one ever since she read it at her school's book club. Good thing I already had it on my Dewey's Challenge list! And being a Newbery Award winner from the era of my own childhood, I'm surprised I hadn't heard of this one before now.

The book starts out when a bunch of seemingly random people end up renting rooms at a new apartment building. Then the old guy, Mr. Westing, who lives on the hill, dies. And suddenly, all the people in the apartment building are invited to the reading of the will and come to find out, they are all connected somehow to the guy! Mr. Westing, of course, has then laid out a game of sorts, complete with riddles, and clues and hints, which will help everyone figure out who his murderer is, because yep, he claims that's what's happened!

And so the game begins! Everyone is put in unlikely pairs to work together. Lots of discoveries are being made, and many strange and odd things begin to happen.

I enjoyed it all for the most part. Some things were quite easy to figure out, some things I didn't see coming at all. I think it's perfect and very fun for kids. Though I also think many of the nuances would go right over their heads.

Since this is for the Dewey's Books Challenge, I wanted to link to her review of this book and remember what she thought of it, but at the moment, I can't get to her blog. But I'm almost positive that she loved it!

Other Reviews:


  1. I read this book in school many years ago, and I've been wanting to re-read it. I don't remember any of the details, but I remember liking it a lot.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  2. this sounds like a book that kids could learn a lot from.

  3. I read this one for the first time last year, and I'm sorry to admit I couldn't figure out why it won the Newbery, unless it was for the originality of the plot. It didn't blow me away. Maybe I would have enjoyed it more when I was younger?

  4. You already linked to my review, so you probably noticed, but I didn't get this one at all. I was never hooked into it. I think that kids would enjoy it a lot more than adults, as it should be, being a kid's book.

  5. I discovered this one later too and wished I had read it when it wouldn't have all been so easy to figure out. But, I still liked it enough to buy it.

  6. Sounds like we are all agreed...it's a great kids book, but for adults, it's just okay.

  7. I still love this book -- maybe it's because I've been reading and rereading it since I was 10. 20 years later, I still have the same copy I had then.

  8. So, I'm a little late in stumbling upon this review and everyone's comments, but I just reread it more than a decade after using it as a class read for a 6th grade gifted language arts program. I have to say I am even more impressed now that I have given it the benefit of a "close reading" of a different kind. Knowing the solution to the game and the plot let me concentrate on the minutiae...and I was totally blown away. This is compounded by the fact that I have recently moved to Milwaukee, the book's setting, and have been able to trace a tremendous amount of local history (and politics) in Ms. Raskin's constructions. I believe we have all fallen for the Queen's Sacrifice at her hand as she played us into thinking of this as a YA book and a "simple" (albeit rather complex) mystery story. Though the real mystery is not the whodunit; rather it's the ages-old lovely story of "How do we do it?" in order to get what we really need. Anyone interested in my political research on this book can write to me at jkwooddell@yahoo.com.



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